Creations Art Show

One of my paintings is going to be in the Creations Art Show at Our Savior’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Washington Heights this weekend! If you’re in NYC, check out this document for a list of times the show is open to the public Sept. 27th-Oct. 6th: Creations Art Show Flyer

The theme of the exhibit is GRACE: What does it mean? Where can we experience moments of grace? What makes it so amazing? Artists were challenged to depict what grace means to them in any type of art – dance, music, theater, visual art…and then to write about the moment that inspired them.

The moment that spoke to me occurred at the appropriately named Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore, MD. The church is located in Middle East Baltimore, a neighborhood suffering from poverty, crime, injustice, racism and displacement. I witnessed the people at that church fight back against the negativity through their faith and their optimism spread throughout the community. Each person had a powerful story about trials they faced and how they overcame them thanks to God’s Great Grace.

When I was there in 2008-09, I made these sketches inspired by the congregation’s moving rendition of the song “Amazing Grace”, their namesake:

Sketch  Amazing Grace

When sung by this group of strong, passionate, God-loving Christians, the song was transformed from a simple, popular hymn to one of great meaning:

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

We have already come

‘Twas grace that brought us safe thus far

And grace will lead us home

We. Us. I will never forget how they changed the words to show that we were all in this together. Everyone had something they were facing, but God’s undeserved grace was going to lead us through it as a family and a community. This grace empowered them to support each other, help each other and build each other up. At that time in my life, I desperately needed their support and encouragement.

I have wanted to go back and re-create this image of a dove hovering over the skyline of Baltimore and the red brick church and this exhibit gave me a reason to open up that chapter of my life again. This is the final 12″ x 36″ painting I submitted (click to see it enlarged):

Amazing Grace

Now that I’m in NYC, I can’t help but think of that skyline as any city – not just Baltimore. I wasn’t sure if the dove was dropping the song of grace down on the world or taking it up along with the prayers and burdens of a group of people singing together in solidarity. Maybe it’s a little of both. In the end, it’s a tribute to some of the most hopeful, peaceful and grace-full people I’ve ever met.

Muhlenberg College Reunion

I went to my 5 year reunion at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA this weekend. It felt good to be back on campus and to see the changes that have taken place. The dining hall is the biggest change! It reminds me of a combination between a ski lodge and Hogwarts. My friends and I walked down “Academic Row” as the bells rang on the hour and saw a bunch familiar faces. It felt just like old days!

Haas

Haas Bell Tower and Admissions Building

This is the ‘Berg logo I painted in the Student Council Suite back in 2008. Due to the changes in that building it’s not there anymore, so I’m adding it here. Go Mules!

Student Council Suite

I was even able to meet up with a couple of my art professors at the Center for the Arts (or, the CA) where I spent a lot of my time in the painting, printmaking, drawing and photography studios. There were some late nights spent there! The campus security officer who locked up at 1am got to know me and my friend Anneliese by name. He always let us stay as long as we needed.

The CA

Center for the Arts (CA)

There was an Alumni Art Exhibition the same weekend and Anneliese submitted one of her illustrations called “Old Friends”. She was a talented illustrator back in college and has only gotten better! Check out her work: www.anneliesejuergensen.com. I wasn’t able to submit anything this year but I’ll have to make sure I do for the next reunion.

"Old Friends"

At night, my friend Jackie and I were able to drive through Bethlehem, PA – a place known for their festivals and their “Christmas town” nickname as well as being the home of the Peeps Factory and the Banana Factory. The Banana Factory used to be a place that distributed bananas, but it was transformed into a community arts center called “Linny’s Place” only the name never stuck. The Muhlenberg Art Association started going there on “First Fridays” when all of the artists studios were opened to the public, and then in 2007 I was offered a summer job working with the B-Smart art education program. This job inspired my career to work in non-profit art organizations and helped give me the foundation to be where I am now. I owe them a lot! It was good to hear they’re growing – the Banana Factory is part of ArtsQuest and they’re expanding their campus in Bethlehem.

Banana Factory